Because she lives on the other side of the planet her birthday started when we had dinner yesterday. When I phoned her she was sitting in a crowded bus with lots of laughter and shouting around her. On her way to a festival after a night out camping in the rain. She gathers people around her wherever she goes. The world is her homeland.
When she was born in the early hours on that Sunday morning 28 years ago today there was silence. The room dark and very warm, R shaking and crying, Dr. P, Helen the midwife, V and K, all frozen and staring. No sound. Time stood still.
This tiny tiny doll in my hands. Quickly I cup her head in my hand, measure her hands (one digit of my index finger) and feet (two digits), try to wrap her into my arms on my belly, her eyes closed, peaceful as if asleep, unwilling to be here.
Snap! Suddenly all hectic activity. Helen gently sucking her nose clean, a whimper, a small kitten sound, breathing, a slight jerk. Eyes tightly shut.
I look at her tiny mouth - my nipple impossibly huge like some sort of foreign body.
K runs downstairs and brings back the kitchen scales, I gently place my daughter in the tray. We all hold our breath, 1000g, a packet of sugar. I look up and into their silent faces. Dr. P nods and I turn to R and I say, you bring her to the hospital. We wrap her up in many blankets, place a small woolly hat, more like an egg cosy, on her head. V takes a picture. Dr. P's car has been running for a while outside. And suddenly they are all gone, R holding our daughter deep inside his coat in all of her blankets, Dr. P, Helen, K went to check on own baby.
Like someone demented I am tossing and turning, hallucinating, hearing voices, aching, aching, shaking and shouting. Someone is wrapping me in a fresh soft quilt, sitting at the bottom of the bed, humming, murmuring in a low and soothing voice until I fall into a fitful sleep. I wake up briefly and V is still sitting there, humming.
R comes back with reassurances, stories of excited cooing nurses and expertise and we hold each other in disbelief and full of wonder.